Mayor tries to talk challenger out of standing

I blogged in May how Opotiki Mayor declared things were going so well in Opotiki that he didn’t want an election as it would distract the Council from its work.

The Herald reports he has gone further and traveled to a challenger’s home to try and persude them not to stand to save the cost of an election:

One of New Zealand’s longest-standing mayors went to a rival candidate’s home in his mayoral car and told him the region could save $50,000 if he continued in office unopposed.

Mayoral candidate Les Keane says incumbent Opotiki mayor John Forbes knocked on his door this week to discuss Keane’s decision to challenge him for the mayoralty – and there would be no need for a costly local body election if no one opposed him for a sixth term.

When approached by the Herald on Sunday yesterday, Forbes admitted he used the mayoral car to pay a visit to Keane’s house on Thursday, and he went there specifically to discuss Keane’s candidacy.

Forbes denies requesting Keane stand down, but admitted his approach made the $50,000 cost to ratepayers clear if Keane were didn’t pull out of the race.

“I said to him, if you withdraw your nomination, we could save a lot of money on the election,” Forbes said.

“It costs about $50,000 – which is about one per cent of our rates – to have an election and if he wasn’t committed to it, we could save money.”

This is a weird look. The motivations may be benign, but it comes over self-serving.

For a start I doubt having no contest for Mayor would save $50,000 as there would still be elections for Council and two of the three wards have more nominees than places.

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